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Article updated: 1/11/2013 7:37 PM

Barrington Hills may host meeting on auto auction site

By Lenore T. Adkins

Because East Dundee won't hold a fifth hearing to discuss the merits of an auto auction business coming to town, neighboring Barrington Hills, which opposes the project, wants to host a town-hall meeting on the issue.

A time, date and location have not been set.

East Dundee has already held four hearings on the matter, which preceded board action and were required by law.

But Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud says those hearings took place before it became known Insurance Auto Auctions had environmental issues in other states.

"We are more than happy to host such a meeting to help the residents of East Dundee, certainly as well as our residents," Abboud said. "I think that there hasn't been a chance to discuss the issues from an educated perspective."

IAA sells totaled vehicles to the highest bidder and hopes to build a 12,000-square-foot building and 34 acres of outdoor storage north of Route 72 at Commonwealth Drive in a reclaimed gravel pit.

East Dundee Trustee Allen Skillicorn and some Barrington Hills residents oppose the business because they fear leaking fluids from the vehicles will contaminate local groundwater.

Records show that IAA paid $500,000 to settle a 2011 New Jersey lawsuit that sought to force the cleanup of its site. On two occasions, IAA also paid about $10,000 in fines over incomplete water collection procedures in Oregon -- cases dating back to 2007. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating whether IAA was part of a site contamination in Seattle -- IAA moved there several years after the site was given a superfund designation.

Marvin Husby, a Barrington Hills resident who also opposes the plan, reached out to Skillicorn this week, after initial results of a survey Skillicorn took of residents and businesses showed 75 percent of them oppose the project.

The IAA issue wasn't in the survey, but residents registered their opposition anyway. Skillicorn said that proves East Dundee shouldn't move forward with a redevelopment agreement for IAA. A vote is expected either this month or next month.

Husby asked Skillicorn to hold a town-hall meeting on the issue, then contacted Abboud. Even though several hearings have already taken place, Skillicorn told Husby he'd support another meeting.

"Not many people pay attention to what happens during meetings and hearings ... and they want to know more," Skillicorn said. "I think it would be wrong to sweep it under the rug under the technicality that (East Dundee) already had a hearing."

Residents and representatives from Barrington Hills have been registering their opposition at hearings and board meetings since September, East Dundee Village Administrator Bob Skurla said.

Legally, another hearing is not required to continue the process and that's why East Dundee won't hold one or organize a separate forum, East Dundee Village President Jerald Bartels said. Barrington Hills has already had its say and East Dundee is already making sure IAA complies with environmental regulations, Bartels said.

Bartels said he questions whether Skillicorn has greater political ambitions, and accuses him of being a "proxy vote for Mr. Abboud." Skillicorn has said he's happy being an East Dundee trustee.

Bartels also questions the merits of a town-hall meeting when people already opposed to IAA are arranging it and are, in his view, "cherry picking the facts to support the narrative" that IAA is a big-time polluter.

"I think it's only going to perpetuate the circus that the 'not in my backyard' crowd is trying to do over there in Barrington Hills," Bartels said of a town-hall meeting. "At some point, Mr. Abboud needs to understand that Barrington Hills has no right to tell East Dundee what to do. ... His jurisdiction ends at the Barrington Hills line."

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